Energy requirement varies among individuals. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not the ice-cream-free-for-all as we would like it to be. It is generally recommended that pregnant women increase their daily intake by 100kcal in the first trimester and 300kcal in the second and third trimester. For instance, an extra snack before bedtime consisting of a fruit, a serving of milk or yogurt and a few biscuits is often enough. A daily prenatal multivitamin supplement is often recommended during pregnancy.
When you're pregnant, what you eat and drink is the main source of nourishment for your baby. In fact, the link between what you consume and the health of your baby is much stronger than once thought. That's why doctors now say, for example, that no amount of alcohol consumption should be considered safe during pregnancy.
For pregnant women who are worried about not getting enough iron in their diet, Anemia and Pregnancy can provide you with invaluable information. A growing concern is peanut allergies. Women often wonder if it is safe to eat peanuts when they are pregnant. Another concern of almost all pregnant women is prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The Medications section details some common drugs that are safe to use during your pregnancy.
As well as a healthy diet, it is also recommended that a folate supplement be taken prior to conception and for the first three months of pregnancy to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Anaemia and iron intake
Pregnancy increases the need for iron in the diet. The developing foetus draws enough iron from the mother to last it through the first five or six months after birth so a woman has an increased need for iron during pregnancy.
Iron losses are reduced during pregnancy because women are no longer menstruating and so are able to absorb more iron from the gut during pregnancy. It is useful to include foods that are good sources of iron in the diet every day (for example red meat) and to have foods that are good sources of vitamin C (like oranges) to help absorb the iron.
Caffeine and Alcohol
These two substances can turn up in unexpected places, like a liqueur-filled truffle or coffee ice cream. And be aware that chocolate is also high in caffeine, so watch that sweet tooth. Caffeine and alcohol actually prevent absorption of folic acid and iron - two essential nutrients during pregnancy - and pull calcium out of your bones, not to mention that they also directly affect the fetus and can have long-term developmental effects.
Herbs may sound harmless, but many have potent effects, and some should be avoided during pregnancy. Stay away from raspberry tea, cohash, slippery elm, ginseng and green tea - these may stimulate contractions. Instead, try fruit, ginger or mint teas.
A healthy pregnancy diet isn't about rules and regulations, it's about taking care of a growing baby with nutritious, balanced food. Sure, you'll veer off track now and then, but your good food habits now will last a lifetime - for you and your baby-to-be.